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An Uncommon Friendship

An Uncommon Friendship: From Opposite Sides of the Holocaust

with Sally Patterson Tubach
Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: 2
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    An Uncommon Friendship
    Book Description:

    In 1944, 13-year-old Fritz Tubach was almost old enough to join the Hitler Youth in his German village of Kleinheubach. That same year in Tab, Hungary, 12-year-old Bernie Rosner was loaded onto a train with the rest of the village’s Jewish inhabitants and taken to Auschwitz, where his whole family was murdered. Many years later, after enjoying successful lives in California, they met, became friends, and decided to share their intimate story—that of two boys trapped in evil and destructive times, who became men with the freedom to construct their own future, with each other and the world. In a new epilogue, the authors share how the publication of the book changed their lives and the lives of the countless people they have met as a result of publishing their story.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94535-7
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)

    Two European boys from small villages, one Jewish Hungarian and one German grew up on opposite sides of the deadly divide constructed by Nazi Germany. One barely survived his imprisonment in several concentration camps, while the other attended meetings of the Jungvolk (Pre-Hitler Youth). The father of one was exterminated at Auschwitz, while the father of the other was a counterintelligence officer in the German army.After the war, both youths followed their luck and drive, each in his own way, to leave Europe and cross the Atlantic. The transformative power of the United States liberated them from their particular European...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. ONE The Return of the Past
    (pp. 1-23)

    The end of the journey came five days after the train left Kaposvar. People spilled out of crammed cattle cars onto the platform of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on a foggy morning in July 1944. The bodies of those who had died were left behind in cars whose heavy sliding doors had been barred shut the entire trip with iron and barbed wire. The only light had filtered through narrow ventilation slats, and the terrified victims now blinked in the daylight, looking for friends and family members on the platform. They shouted out names in Hungarian—Pista, Jozsi, Sanyi, Kato....

  6. TWO Two European Villages
    (pp. 24-62)

    Tab, the village of Bernat Rosner’s birth and childhood, is located in the open countryside south of the Danube River and Lake Balaton, about 120 kilometers southwest of Budapest and 90 kilometers north of what is now Croatia. To the west, about 130 kilometers away, lies German-speaking Austria. The parameters of this rural world were broken by Germany’s designs on Europe.

    Despite the presence of a few radios in Tab, one of which belonged to a neighbor of the Rosners, the village was far removed from the outside world before World War II. News as we know it, broadcast first...

  7. THREE The Loss of Innocence
    (pp. 63-81)

    The early spring of 1944 was cold. While much of Europe went up in flames, rural life in Tab, even for the Jews, went on relatively undisturbed, with its timeless, seasonal routine. The fortunes of war were shifting. As the Soviet army approached from the East, Hungary slowly became a battlefield. In Tab the guns were still too far away to be heard, but fly-overs of the American and British air armadas on their way to Germany or to the oil fields of Rumania had become more frequent. On a clear day such orderly flight formations looked like swarms of...

  8. FOUR The Maelstrom: To Auschwitz and Beyond
    (pp. 82-144)

    On Monday, July 3, 1944, a train left Kaposvar, Hungary, for Auschwitz, Poland, via Budapest. It was filled with Jews from the rural regions of southwestern Hungary, Polish Jews who had fled their native country in 1939 in advance of the German invasion to seek refuge in Hungary, and Jews who had converted to Christianity. Marked with a sign that read “Suitable for twelve cattle,” each wagon of the freight train was crammed with forty to fifty people, men and women, boys and girls, of varying states of health, wealth, and social status. The heavy sliding doors were tightly locked...

    (pp. None)
  10. FIVE Roads West
    (pp. 145-198)

    The war was over, the Nazi death machine was dismantled, and Germany and much of Europe lay in ashes. Daily life for most Germans had become a struggle for survival. No one played the fiddle on the ruins. Lives were lived, not in the headlines or in the momentous decisions made far away in Washington, Moscow, and London, but in a bleak everyday full of deprivations. For me, in Germany, there was hunger—not starvation—and an all-pervasive disorientation. What would the days to come bring? And the year? And the future after that? Would the conquerors take revenge for...

  11. SIX Careers: An American Story
    (pp. 199-232)

    That first summer in America, Bernie—or Bernat, as Charles Merrill called him—became acquainted with wealth and luxury. From St. Louis, Merrill took his family, including Bernie, to the East Coast to attend the Amherst graduation of his brother, Jimmy. Then they proceeded to Charles Merrill, Sr.’s opulent estate, known as The Orchard, in Southampton, Long Island. The family accepted the odd addition of this young Hungarian to its summer gathering as one of those idealistic quirks to which Charles Jr. was prone. Given his cultural and social background, the elder Merrill treated Bernie with a remarkable degree of...

  12. SEVEN Germany: Fifty Years Later
    (pp. 233-265)

    Early in the writing of our stories, Bernie and I planned a trip to Germany for spring 1997 as a way to complete our recall of the past. We decided that our trip should start in the Austrian city of Mauthausen and the forest near Gunskirchen where Bernie had nearly died at the end of World War II. We met at the Dom Hotel in nearby Linz. Somehow it surprised me to see Bernie move around Austria with the same self-assurance that he had at home in California. I felt an unfamiliar twinge of self-consciousness at being with Bernie in...

  13. Coda
    (pp. 266-268)

    While writing our stories, Bernie and I became more aware of our common belief in Euro-American cultural traditions, not just as a set of static principles, but as something alive and evolving, with inherent moral and intellectual resources for problem solving and bridge building. This creed has provided us with the cultural playing field—far removed from ethnic determinism, moralistic breast-beating, or psychological make-believe—to understand and to deal with each other's pasts, their similarities and radical differences.

    One evening during our weeklong journey through Germany, Bernie became moved as he described the architectural simplicity of Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello,...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 269-271)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 272-272)